Buddhism and realms

I broadly agree, I don't think the religions need to be fairly represented in-game, although as far as the Infernal option is concerned, I think there's a significant difference between "For the purposes of the setting, this real-world religion has more metaphysical insight and the strongest deity" and "For the purposes of the setting, this real-world religion is eeeeevil and its believers are intrinsically making the world worse."

Which, whatever you think about the moral positions of the other Realms (I certainly don't take the Divine as a force for good), is the mechanically-enforced canonical place of the Infernal, whose creatures are incapable of any positive motivations, whose powers are incapable of helping others without inflicting commensurate harm, and whose Auras rot the world and twist people into harming each other. I would say you shouldn't literally demonize real-world religions unless you have a good reason to.

Not that there aren't potentially good reasons. Like maybe you're trying to run Ars Magica as Lovecraftian eldritch horror, with a petty and narcissistic God who's so unable to tolerate or comprehend not being worshiped that He strikes innocent communities insane and rots the world around them out of malicious vengeance and then uses the madness He Himself inflicted as retroactive justification for calling them evil and punishing them. That certainly does achieve the magi-limiting goal, since everyone's under the careful scrutiny of an overtly evil and highly reactive God who will punish any change to His preferred ordering of the world, regardless of methods or the positivity or negativity of the consequences. If that's the genre people are going for, Infernal Buddhism seems fitting. Giving magi the False Gift by default could be fun, too.


There is a vast chasm between "unbelievably obnoxious" and mortified.

Oh, we're doing this again? Don't you recall the time you called the authors out for our Christian bias and someone pointed out to you that David's a Shinto priest? Embarrassing stuff... I'd have stopped there, myself.

As I've told you before, we tried to write Buddhism for Ars, back when we tried to write Mythic China. My notes on it were published in Hermes Portal 11, in 2004.

Why do you keep picking the same fights?


I'm not "going into this again", I'm just pointing out that the decision is insensitive.
And I don't think anyone could seriously claim there isn't a Christian bias to the work, even if you only compare Abrahamic religions as they are presented within the text. What religion David may follow has very little to do with that, especially if he made the decision not to edit the bias of the authors involved.

The decision to not include a religion not found in Europe in 1220 is insensitive? By that argument it's insensitive not to include Mayan religious practice.

I note that you have completed avoided my point, which is that your continued claim that the authors never considered the matter is untrue, as demonstrated by the work that went into the abortive Mythic China book, which was published 20 years ago in a magazine article. We clearly did what you asked, before you asked.


Oh, it turns out there was a rights reversion in the copyright. Here you go: I'll record it for my podcast eventually.

I do warn you I was a way worse writer back then. This was just after Sanctuary of Ice came out and Google was not a thing.

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Time to throw the cat among the pigeons. Buddha is a recognised saint of the Eastern Orthodox Church and as such his followers partake of the Divine. If you want, in your game.

I don't believe any of the authors have ever statted up St Barlaam and Josaphat, but they clearly exist in period documents. As such your foundational statement, that it cannot be Divine, fails.

Buddha's Feast Day in the Eastern Church is November 27th, by the way.

{Added later: Oh, I'm wrong, that's in the Roman martyrology. His feast day in the east is in August.


Look here :grin:.
By such types of tradition, Hypatia might have become a Christian saint named Catherine of Alexandria too.


Well, I'm so glad we've solved that issue.


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As I said above... I've always understood Mythic Europe as being Europe as 13th Century people believed it was. That being said, Buddhism would certainly be seen as Infernal by Europeans, at first. After being ruled by Buddhists for a while in the East, would the populace see Buddhism differently? Could Buddhism, as a result, shift from an Infernal Realm to another Realm?

In other words, is the association of a thing with a Realm based on peoples' beliefs, being different in different places and able to shift from one association to another?

Just wondering...

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As I've noted above, the Gutama Buddha is a saint in both the Roman and Greek martyrologies. I see no reason he'd be Infernal. Particularly Therevada Buddhism.


Why "certainly"? I can think of no reason why it would be automatically considered infernal.

Well, not really!

The story of Siddhartha Gautama, who became the Buddha centuries before Christ, eventually morphed into many similar stories as it entered different cultures. One was that of one prince Josaphat converting to Christianity and eventually achieving sainthood, a tale that enters the eastern Christian folklore some time around the turn of the millennium. But that's a far cry from Bhudda being a Christian saint.

Timothy, I am sorry to always sound so persnickety! You are a treasure trove of interesting stuff, but from my experience you tend to ... oversell it, if I may say so with the greatest respect. I have the Oversensive Flaw in regard to such behaviour, like when journalists write "Billionaire has not enough money to pay the bill of this restaurant" after hearing said billionaire say "I seem to have lost my wallet, send the bill to my secretary". And for some reason I hold librarians to higher standards than journalists :slight_smile:

Buddha can be saintly, but Buddhism and Buddhists can still be Infernal. The way Cistercians, Cluniacs, and Vallumbrosans can be Infernally corrupted (see The Church, pp.85-101) despite Saint Benedict being, well, saintly!

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When it comes to being offended, I rarely see people making those fine distinctions. People tend to go all the way to 11, especially when religion is involved. I could have written "such writing would be obnoxious to some readers" instead of the sentence with "mortified", and the point would not have changed.

I don't think anyone attempts to. It's set in an alternative Medieval Europe where most things are the same, except there is some magic. As Medieval Europe was mostly devoted to Christianity, of course there will be a Christian bias.

Shadowrun and Cyberpunk have a capitalism bias.
Someone could say D&D and pathfinder are anti-religion because they promote Polytheism. (Those of us old enough will remember the D&D satanism news reports)
Legend of the Five Rings religion is clearly a copy of Eastern Religion and has an Eastern Religion bias.

If any game has a setting that has some parallels with our world, some elements will be accentuated more than others. If one doesn't like the chosen elements the game developers focused on, change the focus in your game, or play another game.


I understand the point you're trying to make, but I suspect you and silveroak are talking past each other a bit with what you mean by "bias," considering the examples you used. Shadowrun and Cyberpunk are about capitalism, but in a way that almost universally serves to criticize capitalism and make villains of the people working hardest to uphold it. It's not an accident that the standard player characters in those games are thieves and other criminals who were marginalized by their highly stratified societies. Capitalism is powerful, it's winning by a landslide, but most of the people in those settings are suffering for that fact, and resistance against it is overwhelmingly sympathetic, if perhaps doomed to minimal success and heavy retributive violence.

Whereas one could argue that Ars Magica doesn't just represent a world where Christendom or the Abrahamic God have power, but also takes as a given that they provide fundamental intellectual and moral insight into the way the world is and should be, that joining in on the worship and the Christian virtues is the correct choice for both the welfare of others and the fate of your soul (and that those defiant to God are defined by their incapacity for such virtue), and that to reject God for another faith (or atheism, or maltheism) ranges from foolishness to villainy.

That said, my own counterargument to that is that such bias is almost always (outside of the Infernal book, whose mechanics I actually adore but whose fluff I tend to ignore) handled in such a vague-outline, un-enforced fashion that in practical play experience, I've never met a SG who treated God as more important or morally good than "the one who happens to be winning," when compared to Faerie or Magic beings receiving worship.

Best take a look at just who these rulers were when they reached Eastern Europe: certainly no convincing representatives of Buddhist religion.
When Josaphat made it into the Legenda Aurea, nobody in Europe associated him with the Golden Horde.

If you're going to expound at length about your own aversion to exaggeration, it'd do you well not to exaggerate the claims of the person you're responding to in the very same post - Timothy never claimed the Buddha was a christian, did he?


No, Mythic Europe has never been what Medieval people believed it was. At one point it was what modern people believed Medieval people believed it was, until it became evident that the views of medieval people were simply too divergent based upon belief system, academic background, and location to be considered as a homogenous whole. Since then it has been something between historical and vaguely medieval that developed in whichever way the myriad authors chose to direct it.

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Which point would that have been? Name it!

As far as ArM5 is concerned: there was an editor keeping it tightly together - and occasionally telling you the criteria!

I believe we have a different understanding of the word "tightly"